Jul 25, 2011

What can media learn from one of the guys that inspired Google+?

Business Insider publishes a very interesting presentation from Facebook product manger Paul Adams, back when he was at Google. It is called: The Real Life Social Network and it is supposed to have influenced the creation of Google+.

What are the key elements from this presentation:

#1- "People are spending much more time interacting with other people and much less time consuming content from websites".

#2- "People donʼt care about the technology; they care about the communication that the technology enables".

#3- "The emergence of the social web is simply our online world catching up with our offline world".

#4- People have several groups of friends. Not one. About 4 to 6. In each group they have around 2 to 10 people

#5- Those groups are very independent from each others.

#6- "Not all members of the group are equal. We trust some people in a group on one set of topics, and others on a different set".

#7- We have three type of ties:
- Strong: people you care about most. Average American has 4 strong ties. They speak / meet with 10 "friends" on average a week.
- Weak: average 130 friends on FB. Our brain can not handle more 150 weak ties.
- Temporary: customer service, etc.

#8- "We often look to others when making decisions". The more info. The less we can process it.The more we rely on others. But strong ties are the ones who are really influencing us.

#9- "If we want people to use our products, to use our website, it is important that we design in features that support our friends making decisions for us".

#10- People have multiple facets of identity.

#11- People care about their privacy.

So, from an information / media point of view, what could it mean? Please add more elements.

#1- Key to understand where media and advertisers are in the social network of people. I think in the Temporary circle. And you?

#2- Like their social circles, people have various centers of interest. Those various centers of interest match with their various social circles: school friends / college friends / co-workers / family / experts I trust / etc. No?

#3- People, in general, like to share what they know, what they read, etc. We like to look smart. Sharing relevant content with the relevant circle / person contributes to it. We curate content. Media need to take more advantage of it and so need to make really easy to share, curate AND able conversation around their content. How?

#4- If you make sharing / curation / conversation possible, you lose control. And so? This is hardly news. People have been sharing for ever information and we never controlled the way they did it. No? Do you see any major issue?

#5- So if it is all about sharing / curation / conversation with the "right" circle, is the classical media package the answer? Do we still need a package or do we need to be part of "various packages" or both? What is the value of the brand: the "right" information? Or the "right" information in "right" hub(s)? How could a media look like if it was not a destination anymore but "an information spread engine"?

#6- From an advertising point of view where do I want to be? In a general conversation (mass market) or in conversation(s) where my service / product is relevant? Do I want to be in it with a general message or with a call for action?

Now I could post this message on my blog or on a social network. Where is the conversation going to pick up? Let' see.

Jun 15, 2011

Citizenside.com chooses RevSquare to rethink its site

We are very happy to announce that citizenside.com has chosen Revsquare to rethink the UI and the interactive design of its site. Citizenside is a news participatory journalism site focus on photos and videos. They have a professional staff and aggregate UGC content. According to Wikipedia they are "a social network of over 50 000 amateur and pro photographers, freelance journalists, and citizen reporters in more than 100 countries".

Jun 8, 2011

HTML5 and responsive design vs. apps?

We have been talking to our clients about responsive design and HTML5 as an alternative to apps, for quite a few months now. Yesterday, The Financial Times launched "a new, Web-based version of its mobile app" in HTML5 (app). HALLELUJAH! So what is the concept?

Responsive design, to make it VERY simple, is a concept based on CSS3 capabilities. The idea has first been developed by Ethan Marcotte about a year ago. You can read his blog A list a part. The concept is to develop different templates for the same site. Each template is tailored to a specific device (computer, smart phone, tablet, etc.) and a specific orientation (vertical / horizontal). Since CSS 2.1, the style sheets (translation of the design in code) can recognize the device and now, with CSS3 (via mediaqueries), also some physical characteristics of it.

Let's imagine that I have developed 6 templates :
- 4 columns for large computer screen display
- 3 columns for regular computer screen display
- 2 columns for horizontal tablet display
- 1 large column for vertical tablet display
- 1 medium column horizontal smartphone display
- 1 small column for vertical smartphone display

Then, based on the device the customer is going to use, a different template is displayed.

But it does not stop here. If on top of that, the site is developed in HTML5 you can add functionality that is replicating an app-like experience (for example sliding). If you are a Basecamp HQ customer, you can experiment it right away, using different devices to view your account. Impressive.  By the way, HTML5 is already being used by some developers to develop apps (take a look at this blog: HTML5 app).

You see the point. Instead of developing a site + one app for iPhone + one app for iPad + one app for Android... you develop one back-end with different CSS on the front-end. No doubt that you're going to save some pain... and lot of money.

But still the beauty of the concept does not stop here. If you can do a site that looks like an app, you can also keep the transactions within your site. No need to go through the App Store or any similar stores and no need to lose a large percentage of the transaction.

HTML5 and responsive design are clearly a very smart combination. We are going to see more and more sites using it.

Apr 27, 2011

To compete in the advertising market newspaper needs to enter the ROI battle field

"Hard economic lesson for news" is the last post from Jeff Jarvis' blog BuzzMachine. I added a comment to it. Here it is:

Newspapers are in the advertising business, with on average 80 to 85% of their revenue coming from ads (in North America). They are facing five major issues with this business:

#1- They have lost the monopoly of distributing advertising.

#2- Advertising space has no limit on the digital word, driving prices down

#3- Google has changed the game in the advertising business from "eye ball" to "ROI". Customers pay only if there is an interaction with the ad.

#4- ROI means targeting ad and customer database qualification. Unfortunately, newspapers are not yet equipped to fight this data war... even if some are trying hard (see below in my other #4 - Tulo)

#5- Digital means also better measurement than polls. Better measurement regarding the interaction between customers and ad, but also between customers and content. And those measurements are not saying what the polls were saying. They are saying that maybe we don't engage with content as much as we wanted to believe it before, same with ad.

So what are some possible directions:
#1- To rely less on advertising and increase paid customer revenue, like the NYT is doing right now (ad is now 50% of its revenue). But, less ad $ means less money because it is way more costly (acquisition cost) to make $1 in paid reader than $1 in advertising. So no choice here than to reduce operation cost. Reducing operation cost does not mean, reducing quality (so it can), it means reducing focus. You can't talk about everything. You can't offer the same package. Is it bad? Personally I don't think so. Except that the focus on what brings ad $ (entertainment for ex.), might not be the focus that is good for citizens and our society.

#2- To diversify revenue. Many newspapers are doing or trying to do that now. The magazine industry has been very good at that, in particular in Europe. But once again, acquisition cost for diversification $ are going to be probably higher than for ad $... and you probably can't, in the short run, maintain your operations. Rue 89 (in France), a news site started by former journalists from the famous newspaper Libération, are doing that and they are closer and closer to be successful (simplified P&L).

#3- To develop a SEPARATE online / digital operation that does not have the same operational cost that a traditional media company. Then, to build from there. The route is longer and, not doubt very hard. In North America (sorry I can't be more precise), I know a small publisher that has developed local websites (over 10). All of them have very small operations. All of them are making money and being profitable. Of course, nothing to do, in term of revenue, with their print competitors for now BUT they enjoy a very nice profit margin, higher than some of the print brands that I know.

#4- Enter the ROI advertising battle and develop a strategy to generate highly qualified customer databases. In Sweden, one of the largest newspaper publisher Stampen, has been understanding the necessity of entering this ROI battle. They have developed a very smart mobile platform -- TULO -- that allows to generate new advertising revenue BUT ALSO to help newspapers create highly qualified customer databases. More than 80 newspapers are using it in Europe. Revenue generation is starting to be very interesting as well as data gathering (disclosure: we are helping Tulo).

We all know that the decline in ad revenue is the main issue. If newspapers want to compete in this field they need to become better platforms for advertising and prove ROI. In America, the last numbers from the newspapers industry are not good. More advertising revenue declines. For example, McClatchy is entering its "nineteenth straight quarter of revenue declines", with -9.5% for this quarter and the next one is not looking good either. At least, their online ad revenue is up by 2.2%.

Mar 16, 2011

Rockville Central: First Facebook only local news site

A few weeks ago, I tweeted "Why not create a Facebook only news site". Rockville Central, a Maryland (US) small local news site, is doing it. I don't bet often but, for once, I'm ready to bet that it is not going to be the last one.

According to the Huffington Post, 45% of Rockville Central users have a Facebook account. In addition, the social network is the second traffic source for the local news site.

Great move and good luck.

Feb 21, 2011

Reinforcing our Django/Python and Symfony teams

We are happy to welcome, to the RevSquare team, two very talented developers: Adam Zielinski and Tomasz Roszko.

Adam is a Symfony, as well as a Django expert. He has been working with the Symfony framework for the past five years and with Django for the past three years.

Tomasz is a Python specialist. He has been working with Django since the beginning, four years ago. He is also very comfortable with PHP and C++. He has a M.A. M Sc. from Bialystok University (Poland). He is a big fan of his local soccer team: Jagiellonia Białystok. He is also a proud father of three.

For the past three years, the RevSquare development team has been focusing on Django/Python, Symfony and Drupal. Even if the team also has expertise in other technology like: HTML 5, iPhone/iPad, Flash/Flex, Joomla, Cake, Magento and Mongo DB.

Feb 4, 2011

Can The Daily make some money?

Jeff Jarvis started, on his blog, a conversation about whether or not The Daily can make some money.  A few months ago, Frédéric Fillioux (Monday Note) crunched some numbers.

Here are three hypotheses. Don't hesitate to comment and make your own.

HYPOTHESIS #1: 1% penetration of the iPad market

- USA Today paid circulation (1.82M) is less than 1% of the adult American population (around 220 M of people 17+)
- Let's say that The Daily will get 1% of the 15M iPads. It is 150,000 subs x $40 = $6M/year.
- Let's say that they have a CPM like the USA Today app at $50 and that they have 10 ads a day for 365 days. So ad revenue will be = ~$27.34M/year. (150,000/1000= 150. Then 150 x50 x 10 x 265)
- Total revenue = ~$33.4M/year

HYPOTHESIS #2: 0.56% penetration of the iPad market
- How do we come up with 0.56%? I'm using Le Monde (the French daily) numbers. They have 7 million monthly UV. 39,000 of them pay to access the paid part of lemonde.fr. (39,000 = 0.56% of 7 million).
- In this case, sub revenue is = 3.36M/year (84,000 x 40). 84,000 is 0.56% of 15M iPad users.
- Ad revenue (if we keep the same $50 CPM and the same 10 ads/day) = $15.33M/year.
- Total revenue: 18.69M/year.

HYPOTHESIS #3: 0.33% penetration of the iPad market
- How do we come up with 0.33%? Le Monde sales ~300,000 print copies. 100,000 customers access to the paid part of lemonde.fr (39,000 pay only for the web + 61,000 print subscribers who requested access to it). So 100,000 is 0.33% of the 300,000 people paying for print.
- In this case, sub revenue is = $1.98M/year. (49,500 x 40). 49,500 is 0.33% of 15M iPad users.
- Ad revenue (if we keep the same $50 CPM and the same 10 ads/day) = $9M/year.
- Total revenue: $10.98M/year.

Of course the more iPad users, the more potential. On top of that, The Daily is probably going to have an Android and a windows version.

Operations are $25M / year, so it does not look impossible to make money (even if initial investment is $30M). But do you get any advertiser with 150,000 subscribers? The Daily team has put numbers together before launching the project for sure. I'll be curious to see their business cases. As a reader, I'm not the audience. I hope there is one for this hybrid. We'll see.

Jan 31, 2011

You can help us raise money for Kiddoki on Kickstarter

Kickstarter, the site to help creative project to raise money, has selected Kiddoki. So, if you want to hep us launch this news site for kids, you can by contributing here.

If you like the idea talk about it, tweet about it, blog about it...

Thanks a lot for your help to create a great site for kids and help them to become informed citizen.

Jan 15, 2011

The concept of the embed article or "why not let everybody copy and paste your content"

(click on the image to access the full page)

Years ago, I remember having a conversation, around illegal content reproduction, with a media executive at a very large media company. He was worried because his content was all over the place on the net but often people were not paying to reproduce it.

I remember telling him: "You can see this as an issue. Or, you can take advantage of it. At least try. Be all over the web, at the end of the day, it's not bad news."

Yes, why not take advantage of it by "attaching monetization" to your content? How? As you can see in this page (some links are active) with The Huffington Post example, there are many different ways to do it:

#1- By driving traffic back to your site using links on:
- the headline
- the image or video
- the comments
- other headlines
- tags
- newsletter subscription

#2- By embedding:
- a banner at the top
- sponsored links on the side
- e-commerce carousel at the bottom

So, at the end of the day, why not let people embed any articles from your site on their website/blog? Why not make that very easy, like You Tube, for example, is making it very simple to embed any video on any site (while embedding advertising in the video)?

I am sure they are many other ways to "attach" monetization in an embedded article. What are your ideas? What do you think? Any SEO issue with this concept?

On our side, we are going to try the concept with our news site for kids: Kiddoki.

UPDATE: Why not share revenue between the source of the content and the site that reproduces it. Maybe there is a service to create around this concept. A service that would be in charge of advertising and revenue sharing.

Looking for free-lance writers to translaste infographics from French to English

Our team is looking to work with free-lance writers to translate informational graphics (infographics) from French to English. Native language needs to be English (not like me ;).
The graphics are targeting young students from 6 to 12 years old. So, your grammar needs to be perfect and you need to understand how to write for kids, with a simple and clear vocabulary that they can understand.
 If you're interested please send us an email at info(at)mignon-media.com. Subject: graphics. Tx

Jan 13, 2011

Here is the Home Page of our news site for kids 9 to 12: Kiddoki

As you know, we are working on the launch of our news site for kids: Kiddoki. We have been doing several designs of the home page for the 9-12 years old version. Here is the design we like.

Let's us know what you think about it.

We hope to be live in March. The site will be free for the basic edition. We will have a premium version. We are also looking at offering the site as a white label to create "junior news section" on local newspapers. If you are interested to talk about it shoot me an email.

In any case, teachers can already start to use our free classroom blog / site platform: neaclass. The platform will be linked to Kiddoki.

PS: The dinosaur image is used for design purpose only

Jan 8, 2011

Dan Gillmor's very interesting approach to publish his last book: Mediactive

I have been a firm believer, for years, that books should be published online using a website format. I proposed the concept years ago to a publisher in the US and another in France. I called it the "smart book". A sort of "digital shell" for books. Apps are okay. I'm using them. But, they have more limits, at least for now, in comparison with a regular website.
I want a live book. A book that never ends and that can be updated on a regular basis, by the author but also by the readers. I want to be able to share (Twitter, Facebook, etc), embed, link, geo-localize (google), learn a term that I don't know (dictionary), look at a bio (wikipedia), comment, search... and, yes, customize the content of the book that I'm reading.

Dan Gillmor has been using a very interesting approach for publishing his last book: Mediactive. The book is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. It has been self published on the great self publishing platform Lulu. You can find it on Amazon as a regular and a digital book (Kindle). You can also download it as a PDF.

Then, you can read the full book (for free) online. Dan has created a website. In addition to the book, there is a blog and digital resources related to the subject of the book. Blog and resources are updated. You can buy the book. You can make a donation. I made a small one: $5.

Much more can be done, but it is a great step in the right direction to make books even more interesting.

I read the website version of the book and I really enjoyed it: content and format. What do you think about it? What functionality would you like to add on the site?